Thankful

With the end of Thanksgiving comes the end of a really nice season for me, a season that allows me to share whimsy and fun with people I know well or not so well. Christmas season gets a lot more good press: it’s all about giving (allegedly), good cheer, mulled wine, warm fires. All of that is well and good, but the Thanksgiving season allows for more introspection. For my final act of the Thanksgiving season, I present to you an extensive, but not exhaustive, list of things I am thankful for:

Turkey being a lean protein
My family
A mercifully mild November
Having a job in my chosen field
That my dog remembers me even though I only see him a few times a year
Mail from Sam
Group texts
Cheap tickets to France
Being able to run again
Florence the cat
My house and my cat family
Peach
Skype
Soup
Being able to go to bed early
Sparkling water
Kind words over drinks
Baseball
My car
Reasonably priced wine

Without further introspection, it’s time to dive headfirst into a box of Christmas ornaments, as I continue to make my house in Texas my home. Merry, merry

Election

We woke up in a world cut open, all of the hate and sadness and confusion spilling out. It was easy to tune out Donald Trump, my Facebook feed filled with Hillary support or cynical distrust of the whole apparatus. All the while, he was spewing doctrines of distrust of other people, violence, and backwards thinking – and I wasn’t listening, as hundreds of thousands of folks, even in my own state, gathered behind him saying, “He tells it like it is.”

What does that mean, tells it like it is? That implies a shared reality, a shared way of looking. People all over were surveying their lives, their country, and saying, “Muslims are bad. Women are asking for it. Mexicans are the problem. You don’t deserve health care.” Hearing it back, hearing what “it is” was so powerful and resonant that it mobilized people who frequently don’t vote.

The most heartbreaking part of my night came when I was watching the NBC coverage on YouTube in my bed, and they interviewed a woman and asked her, “Why, as a woman, would you vote for Donald Trump?” and she said, of course, “He tells it like it is. You know what you’re getting.” How horrifying that you would accept the reality that people just like you are assaulted and degraded and that there’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well elect someone who puts that out on the table. My stomach plummets every time I think of Hillary Clinton, the most qualified, capable person to ever run for president, and all the women just like her who are overshadowed by unqualified, undignified men because of misogyny (including internalized misogyny), because of hatred and fear.

Waking up at 3 am to the horrific news made me more resolute in my self-care project – and extending this care to the people around us. The government isn’t there to help us. The people have spoken. The government is here to oppress the groups that were already struggling in order to maintain the status quo. What can we do? We must take care of ourselves. We must protect our bodies, our assets, our souls. We must be kind to our neighbors. We must be outspoken. We must not be defeated.

As silly as it seems, let’s do a Thanksgiving Advent today. This one doesn’t come from a hat. Research a way to give back to marginalized groups in your community. This could be getting involved in a political movement like Black Lives Matter, or working at a food pantry, or volunteering at a Planned Parenthood, or going to a community meeting, or giving money to a charity that means something to you. I know I have put my head in the sand for far too long. It’s a bad day in so many ways, but it’s a good day to raise up the people around you, to remind each other that we are important and our rights are important.

Lorna Simpson (b. 1960), Untitled (A lie is not a shelter), 1989, gelatin silver print, 59 x 48 in., National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Billy E. Hodges, TR2008-34

Look right

For the past 10 months, I’ve been walking in the same loop around the Texas Capitol. I do the same weird turns to make the walk a tiny little bit longer, trying to trap the warm air before I go back into a cold library. Monday, I will start this walk from another side of the Capitol. It’s a tiny geographic disruption, but it’s a huge career change for me as well. In my worry about taking a new job, I find myself preoccupied with these walks. Will I still get to take them? How many steps from my new job around the Capitol complex? Will I get too hot?

In times of transition, I fixate on the small things. When I moved to Texas, I obsessed about how my cat, Florence, would travel. When I moved in with Caroline, I obsessed about her dresser. Now, the walks.

Changing perspectives can be simple. I was stuck in traffic yesterday in the rain, and my windshield wipers were being weird, and the rain wasn’t cleaning my very dirty car the way I’d have liked. I looked to the left and saw dark clouds and traffic. I started crying, from the simple things piling up and the big transitions looming in the background (it didn’t help that I was up til 2 am celebrating the Cubs – we are good). I looked to my right, and I saw the most beautiful rainbow. The stripes of color were thick and vibrant against a gray-blue sky.

Today, go right where you usually go left. The little things, they give us the perspective we need to battle the big things. Keep your eyes open.

Image:

Pae White. Restless Rainbow, 2011. Inkjet printed on vinyl. © Pae White.